SUSTAINABLE LIVING IN MEXICO

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By: Mexperience

Simplification of your lifestyle is a prerequisite of sustainability, because complexity is expensive and puts a strain on your limited resources.

As stresses of complex living situations become more apparent, some people are exploring the notion that less really could offer more, and Mexico is proving to be a popular destination for people seeking to engage in simpler, more wholesome lifestyles.

Americans, Canadians and Europeans are considering living in Mexico as an integral element of a change in their lifestyles; this is already demonstrated with the significant (and growing) influx of foreign residents, and particularly those of ‘baby boomer’ age, living here full or part-time.

Places off-the-beaten-track in Mexico, which were unheard of just a decade or two ago, are beginning to emerge as desirable destinations for people seeking an alternative to the constant go-go living styles apparent in their home countries.  The middle-aged, those in their early fifties and even those of working age whose professions give them the flexibility to move now, are actively considering their options.

Locations in Mexico which are promising to be potential hot-spots for foreigners seeking simplified, sustainable living choices in the years and decades ahead include: Morelia and Pátzcuaro in the state of Michoacán; San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Merida in Yucatan, Veracruz and Campeche on the Gulf Coast, Mazatlan and Manzanillo on the shores of the Pacific, Guanajuato, Queretaro and Aguascalientes in the colonial heartland, and San Felipe, Loreto and La Paz on the Baja peninsula.

All these places offer rural or semi-rural settings with excellent road and/or air connections. Although they are some distance away from the urban sprawl of Mexico’s three big cities, they still offer key services expats seek, like healthcare, hospitals, and communications infrastructure; as well as proffering easy access to modern amenities.

Sustainable living is not about moving back into caves.  It is not about giving up innovation or technology; nor is it about living in poverty.  It is about living materially simply and taking responsibility for how we lead our lives and implement our lifestyles; taking into account our consumption and recycling practices; and how we plow back value from our selves into the local communities where we live and become more respectful to the environments which provide for our well-being.

We predict that Mexico will become one of the world’s top destinations for people seeking ways and means to simplify their lives and lifestyles, moving here to live well, but live simply.  The trends we are seeing in terms of the questions we get by email, the guides people are reading and the eBooks people are downloading already point to this.

How to make phone calls in Mexico

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By: Gringos in paradise

How to Phone in Mexico – Yikes this is HARD!

As reliant as we are today on cell phones, it’s a pain in el trasero to travel without one. Hooking up with friends, obtaining movie information while you’re out and about, or finding out why your airport shuttle hasn’t arrived while you’re standing in the street with your luggage are all times when a cell phone is either handy or essential.

Fortunately you can buy a cheap cell phone for use during your stay in Mexico. Or bring a compatible one and obtain the appropriate SIM card. Many locals use prepaid cell phones; you can buy minutes in pharmacies, convenience stores like OXXO, grocery stores (Soriana, Mega, Chedraui, Comercial Mexicana, and so on) and department stores (Liverpool, Sanborns, Elektra, Coppel). Cost for an inexpensive cell phone starts at about 350 pesos and usually comes with enough minutes of air time to get you started.

Phones purchased in Mexico must be registered before you can use them. Ask the person who sells you the phone to help you register it, and make a test call before you leave the store. Officially an ID is required, but I registered mine with no identification by just writing down my full name and birthday. If you want help at the time you buy the phone, however, it’s best to have an official ID such as a passport, FM3, or drivers license with you.

It’s about four times more expensive by the minute* to use the pre-paid phone plan as opposed to a service plan, but of course you’re not paying the monthly fee. The monthly service plan may be more convenient for people who plan to use their cell phone on a regular basis. But for people on a short vacation, or who live in Mexico but use their cell phones only sporadically, the prepaid calling plan is the best bet. TelCel charges 4.19 pesos per minute to make a call to another cell phone in the same service area. Not cheap, but convenient.

Telmex’s cell phone division is called TelCel. TelCel’s most popular monthly plan is the “Más Por Menos Tres” (“More For Less Three”) Plan. Monthly phone rental at this time is 363 pesos and includes 200 minutes of air time. On this plan you are allowed to choose six friends or frequently called numbers for unlimited calls of five minutes or less.

Their pre-paid minutes plan is called Plan Amigo. On this plan, you can choose three local cell phone numbers for unlimited free calls of five minutes or less. If you need to talk longer than five minutes, just hang up and dial again. You must request this service at a TelCel service center or by dialing *264.

Dialing Cell Phones and Land Lines Within Mexico and Beyond

Knowing how to dial land lines from cell phones—and vice versa—in Mexico can be frustrating and annoying. And on a bad day, just plain infuriating. For a list of useful swear words, check our Spanish-English slang dictionary at http://www.mexicoguru.com/mexican-slang.php. Or for a calmer, more Zen-like experience, consult the following info.

Mexican land line to cell in same service area:

044 + local number, including area code (EG: 044-415/152-0000). On most monthly land-line phone plans there is an extra charge to call a cell phone in the same service area from your land line. If you’re calling from a hotel or other public place this service may be blocked, and you’ll get a busy signal.

Mexican land line to cell phone long distance within Mexico:

045 + area code + local number (EG: 045-442/256-0000). On your monthly bill you will be charged 10.28 pesos per minute for this call.

Mexican cell phone to local land line:

local number only (7 digits except for Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara, whose phone numbers are 8 digits)

Mexican cell phone to land line elsewhere in Mexico:

area code + local number

Mexican cell phone to cell phone, same service area:

area code + local number

Mexican cell phone to cell phone, long distance Mexico:

area code + local number

It’s significantly cheaper to send a text message to your local friends then to call them on their cell or home phone. The cost is currently .89 pesos per text, as opposed to 4.19 pesos per phone call per minute (to a cell phone in the same service area).

To dial a Mexican cell phone from outside the country, dial 011 (access code), 52 (country code), and then a “1” before the area code and local number. If you don’t add the “1” you will get a busy signal and may not realize that you’re dialing incorrectly. (EG: 011521/415-152-0000.)

To call the U.S. or Canada (cell or land line), dial 001 + area code + local number

To call other countries, dial 00 + country code + area code + local number

Important Notes

The person who makes the call incurs the charge, whether from a cell phone or land line: local, national, or international. Therefore, if you take a call on your cell phone from a person calling long-distance within Mexico, or even from outside the country, there is no charge to you IF YOU ARE WITHIN YOUR OWN SERVICE AREA. Outside your own service area, roaming charges apply.

After you use your TelMex cell for one year, go to a service counter (or call customer service on your cell phone) and ask to have the cost per minute reduced. You have to request this service, which will cut the cost per minute by about two-thirds, making it well worth the effort.

Mexico is divided into nine service regions. If you purchase cell phone minutes in one service area you must upload them in the same service area. For example, if you buy minutes in Mexico City you must upload them before returning to Guanajuato, which is a different service region. Once you leave the service area where the air time was purchased, you cannot upload them.

If you don’t use your cell for two months, your minutes disappear.

If you have lost your minutes after not using the phone for two months, but purchase more minutes before four months from your last phone call, you recoup your lost minutes.

If you don’t use your cell phone for four months, you lose your minutes permanently.

If you don’t use your phone for six months, you lose your minutes AND your telephone number becomes inactive. You must buy a new SIM card and reregister your phone. So even if you keep your phone for emergencies only, make a call or send a text once in a while to keep the phone active.

Dial *333 for status information, including the amount of air time left on your cell. Dial *264 to reach the Help Desk for other information about your TelCel options (Plan Amigo, or Pay-As-You-Go) or *111 for info regarding monthly rental plan information. Dialing *111 or *264 can also apparently hook you up with a tow truck as well as travel, roadside, or even legal information.

Roaming. Roaming charges are a whole new ball of wax and too complicated to get into here. You can go to http://www.telcel.com/roaming and try to decipher the information there. You must know the make and model of your cell phone to obtain data about calling from service areas outside your own, and also know the city, municipality, and state where your phone was registered.

Good luck on this one! Or send a specific question to roaming@mail.telcel.com.

Emergencies and Useful Phone Numbers

These numbers work from a pay phone, land line or cell phone. There’s no charge to call.

066 or 061 (varies from place to place): Emergencies, police

065: Red Cross

078: Green Angels or tourist information

Charges may apply when you call these numbers.

020: Mexican operator

040: Information

090: International operator

If you want to purchase a Mexican cell phone, you must choose among various providers. Here are a few options, with phone numbers.

TelCel: Monthly rental plans: 55/2581-3333 (Mexico City); pre-paid (pay-as-you-go) plans: 55/2581-3344; http://www.telcel.com)

MoviStar: From a land line, 01800/888-8361; from your cell phone, *611; http://www.movistar.com)

Unefon: http://www.unefon.com.mx. (Unefon currently has a promotion that gives one minute of air time per peso, to either a cell phone or land line when you buy more than 150 units of air time.)

IUSAcell: http://www.iusacell.com.mx

*This and the following information is for TelCel. Information regarding other cellular phone companies may vary.

Baja – Mexico (A big Retirement Destination)

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By: Gringos in Paradise

Southern Baja or northern Baja are both majestic, wait, you mean you didn’t know there was a northern Baja? With wonderful wine growing regions and seafood to die for all regions of Baja California are excellent choices to live the perfect getaway. The best oysters, clams and scallops you ever tasted plus all of the other seafood we all love.

The south tip region of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose Del Cabo are the most beautiful rocky cliff coast lines of Mexico. The growth has been incredible the past 10 years and shows no signs of slowing down. I moved to Todos Santos from Hawaii and the prices blew me away. Todos Santos is about 45 miles up the Pacific coast on the new highway. It has become the Taos, New Mexico artist community south for all of the artist who call it home like Charles Stewart. It is a beautiful little town that seems to be waiting for something to awaken it from it’s slumber. further north you come to LaPaz which is a wonderful mid-size town of 200,000 that is becoming a expat hotspot. The Sea of Cortez is sublime and must be scene to be appreciated, Jacques Cousteau called it the most special body of water in the world for its diversity of marine life. further north you come to Loreto and Mulege two very special towns that will take your breath away with their mix of desert mountains and the many islands in the Sea of Cortez where the water is so still it looks like a lake. Crossing over the desert you start up the northern Baja coastline nearest to San Diego with the Ensenada to Rosarita Beach that has many folks moving to because they can still drive into California within a 1-2 hours or less. This is also where Mexico’s fine wine growing region is. They are making true Gold Metal award winning wines here that are top notch.

Todos Santos

If you’ve not been – and most haven’t – circle ‘Todos Santos’ for the next Baja trip. Sure, some long-timers say it’s not what it used to be, as popularity has swelled (and its ‘gringo: Mexicano’ ratio has evened out), but it still beats the Cabo San Lucas condos for laid-back sense of peace in Baja Sur (incidentally one of Mexico’s safest states). It’s a little more than an hour from the Cabo or La Paz airports, it’s a mountain-backed artist community near very good surfing beaches. You can easily drive into Sammy Hagar bars and boat trips at Cabo, then return for the quiet at night. Plus the Hotel California here likes to claim it’s the Hotel California (it isn’t, but don’t tell them we said so).

Cabo San Lucas

The Cabo area has experienced incredible growth over the last 10 years with many high-end developments that span both sides of the highway. The airport is doubled in size and they built a new toll road to bring you out just above Cabo San Jose on the new highway. What ever your price-point is they have built it there in spades. Beautiful golf courses abound but they are very expensive but if your craving a 5 star resort golf course your in luck with several to choose from. Cabo is great place to eat out and go clubbing like your a college kid again if that’s your thing. Depending where you live Cabo has other useful shopping benefits like WalMart, Costco, Sam’s Club and other big name stores.

La Paz

LaPaz has quietly become a vey popular retirement destination. The malecon has grown to several miles stretching out of town towards the harbor and is beautiful with it’s colorful sculture and art work along the walkways. You will see children or family’s strolling and playing, joggers, roller bladders or lovers holding hands just taking in the beautiful scenery. There are many wonderful local eateries on both sides of the street to tempt you or maybe you just want to have cold Pacifico.

There are many new condos and residential developments that have sprung up in LaPaz or the surrounding areas. There is a nice harbor where you can moor your boat or catch a fishing charter or scuba diving adventure to the surrounding islands. The Sea Of Cortez is all around you and the endless opportunities for exploring will take many years to accomplish.

Retiring to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

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By: Kathleen Peddicord │ Live and Invest Overseas

Puerto Vallarta is neither the cheapest retirement choice in the world nor the cheapest option within Mexico. Our correspondent includes a series of detailed monthly budgets for living in this part of the world in this month’s issue of my Overseas Retirement Letter, which features a complete report on expat life and retirement in P.V.

Here, anecdotally, I can tell you that Puerto Vallarta is more expensive than Panama City, for example…which is to say you aren’t going to find it a bargain compared with the cost of living Stateside.

In Puerto Vallarta, though, that’s not the point.

This isn’t developing-world living. This stretch of Mexico’s Pacific coastline has already been developed to a high level. Life here can be not only comfortable, but easy and fully appointed.

There are no tax or doing-business advantages to retiring to Puerto Vallarta (as there can be to beachside options in Panama, to pick up the comparative line of thinking I suggested yesterday). What this region does offer, however, is a world-class Pacific coast lifestyle, more developed than you’ll find in most of Panama and light years ahead of what you can buy today in Nicaragua.

Note that I didn’t say world-class Pacific coast. You find that many places that I report on. What you don’t find often is the lifestyle to support it.

You can’t compare the cost of retirement in P.V. with the cost of retirement in Salinas, Ecuador, for example, or in Las Tablas, Panama. Salinas, especially, is an emerging region, a back of beyond, frankly, where, sure, someday, maybe, there will exist international-standard amenities. Frankly, though, I wouldn’t bet on when that day might be, and I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it.

In Puerto Vallarta, you aren’t buying for someday. In Puerto Vallarta, you have the opportunity to buy a world-class lifestyle in a region with world-class beaches and ocean views that is supported, right now, by world-class golf courses, marinas, restaurants, and shopping.

This is a lifestyle that is available only on a limited basis worldwide, a lifestyle that is truly (not metaphorically) comparable to the best you could enjoy in southern California…if you could afford it.

And my point is that this enviable lifestyle, some might even call it a lifestyle of the rich and famous, is not some property developer’s vision or speculator’s dream.

I was first in P.V. more than 15 years ago. Back then, developing this coast into a world-class destination was the talk of so many developers and speculators. I returned recently, 15 years later, to find that this region is one place in the world where the developers and the speculators have actually succeeded in creating something.

The Pacific coast in and around Puerto Vallarta has been invested in, over decades, not only by developers and speculators, but also, importantly, by the Mexican government. All along, the government has supported private investment, and now it has refocused its attention on this region, specifically on the stretch of coast running for about 100 miles north from Nuevo Vallarta. As a result, this isn’t a place to plan for a fully appointed retirement at the beach someday. This isn’t a place to invest based on the pretty watercolor drawings of a savvy marketing group. This is one of the best places I can think of to embrace a fully appointed Pacific beach retirement lifestyle right now.

And the best part is that, here in P.V., not only can you plug into a fully developed retirement lifestyle…built, furnished, landscaped, and within minutes of the fairway or the yacht club if those pastimes interest you…but, unlike in southern California, you can also afford it.

No, probably not on a Social Security-only retirement income. But if your retirement budget is a bit bigger, and you’ve dreamt your whole life of retiring ocean-side in comfort, I’d say this could be your number-one right-now choice.

10 Tips for Living in Mexico

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By: Betsy Burlingame│expatexchange.com

Meeting People in Mexico

“There is so much to do here and lots of people who speak English. The locals are very friendly. There are always exceptions but we have been very happy. It is a noisy country and there is dust. There is a theater group, a community choir, an art society and a multitude of clubs, restaurants, live music that you will recognize,” explained an expat in Lake Chapala.

“The language is fun to learn, the food is great, a lot of people I’ve met are really special and I’ve made some friends, although it hasn’t been easy. They are a close-knit culture with their families and don’t accept gringas very willingly, but I’m okay. There are astoundingly beautiful places that I could never see the like in the States,” shared an expat living in Guadalajara.

“MazInfo Yahoo Group and Sunday get-together, MazAmigos get-together, several ladies and mens lunches held weekly, Tourist Aide volunteers, Amigos de los Animals shelter volunteering, La Vina church, Friends of Mexico, American Library, discussion groups, exercise and dance classes, karaoke nights, walking the Malecon (seawalk), reading the Pacific Pearl and Maz Messenger magazines for activities schedules,” suggested an expat in Mazatlan.An expat in Manzanillo said, “We have two groups to meet other ex-pats. One is for couples, they meet weekly and go to dinner. Their name is Thirsty Thursdays. The other is a ladies lunch group. we meet once a month at the restaurant El Tablau, at 1 pm. Everyone is welcome and we generally have a speaker. From these two groups you can learn about the charities and opportunities in Manzanillo.”

Finding a Home in Mexico

“This is a cash economy so it had to be a house I could afford. They have an MLS listings here so I could check out everything. I contacted a realtor and he helped weed out houses that had issues or less than savory neighborhoods. I wanted city water, a pressurized/filtration water system and city sewer. Many houses are on septic so I knew that I might have to make a compromise there. We had 14 houses on the final list. We bought the second one we had looked at and we paid cash. And it is on city sewer. We live in a single family dwelling that shares side walls with my neighbors. It is 2 story with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. Houses are made with brick or cider block with a skin coat of concrete. Many houses have beautiful, lush gardens with indoor/outdoor living. We chose not to have one. Many people have maids and gardeners but it was not in our budget. Square footage of houses include covered porches so be aware of that. We looked at one house that a porch was 1/3 of the square footage which left very little living space,” described an expat in Lake Chapala.

“Right now a condo on the beach with 2-3 bedrooms can be purchsed for as low as about 150,000.00 US dollars. This is a buying opportunity. We also have a beautiful house on the beach with 4 bedrooms for 869,000.00 US dollars. It is the perfect time to take advantage of our low prices,” explained an expat realtor in Manzanillo, Mexico.

“We live in a large home one town over from where my husband works. I think the type of housing one chooses depends on the expat. Some are single and would rather live modestly and pocket the excess money from the monthly stipend they are given towards housing. Others have families and need/want more elaborate housing. I don’t know any expats living here who aren’t working for a U.S. company. This isn’t the type of area people move to on a whim. They are sent here for work. The costs are a little less to about the same as the U.S. (to rent). The locals have realized they can get more for their properties because they are dealing with petroleum companies who are willing to pay. And, I think there was a housing shortage for a while. The house is nice though. We pay about usd $1800.00 for about 3000 sq.ft. You can rent cheaper places but you will generally end up with problems (leaking roof, older appliances),” said an expat in Comalcalco, Mexico.

“Puebla is a big city and neighborhoods vary. Ask the locals at Starbucks, the hip restaurants or at a local bar in the nice hotels for advice on the better/safer places to live. They are very well informed and friendly. The nicer places to live do require a lease, so come prepared with a proof of employment or job offer letter, a bank statement (you can get a Mexican account after you can present a lease), passport, visa and best of all if you have a local reference that is trusted above all. You will need a lease to begin internet, phone and electric service. Hot water and cooking gas comes in the form of gas. Yes GAS only! Your neighbors can help you with the number of the company that services your neighborhood. I live in a 300 year old historical neighborhood that is very exclusive. There are many expats from Germany, France and other countries in the city that mostly live in very modern, new houses. My home is rare to obtain even by the locals. I asked around at work, drove around the neighborhoods by taxi and by chance while exploring a neighborhood on foot I saw a For Rent sign on a very appealing hacienda. I knocked on the door and the owner rented it to me on the spot,” advised an expatliving in Puebla.

An expat living in Puerta Vallarta shared, “There are a few neighborhood guides online, including on insidepv.com, with pictures and video of the areas. It’s relatively easy to choose where you want to be, because Puerto Vallarta is divided into 5 distinct areas- Marina, Hotel Zone, Centro, Old Town, Mismaloya. The marina is pricey, surrounded by a golf course and yacht slips, fine dining and art galleries. The hotel zone is a strip of resorts and modern shopping centers. These two areas resemble southern California or Florida. Centro is downtown Puerto Vallarta where the famous malecon boardwalk is located- loud, popular with tourists, fast paced Old Town Puerto Vallarta is slower paced, trendy, more traditional with cobblestone streets, residences, bars/clubs- this is also the popular gay area and has become quite stylish. Mismaloya is farthest south with different areas along the way, marked by “the crescent beaches.” This area is lush in tropical jungle and lined with villas and luxury condominiums overlooking private beaches and the ocean.”

Cost of Living in Mexico

“Much lower. We pay our property taxes and water yearly. Our taxes are $699 MX and water is $1000 MX per year. Electricity is expensive in Mexico but still less than the US and is paid every other month. We have our propane tank filled on the off month and runs about $1600 MX for 2 months. Phone and internet is $600 MX per month and that is with unlimited long distanse. We have satelite which comes out of Canada. They have grocery stores that carry US products but it is imported and therefore expensive. Produce, eggs, meat, chicken and fish is amazing and reasonable. You can pay as much as you want or as little as you have for a house and find something to fit your needs,” said one expat living in Mexico,” said one expat.

“Much lower. I moved here from New York where my rent was close to 3,000 USD for a loft. My rent now is around 700 USD for a very nice 1 bedroom. Inland, apartments start at $100-$300 USD for decent apartments. To be near the beach however, expect to pay no less than $600 for something decent, and around $1000 for something really nice. Utilities are unpredictable but inexpensive for the most part. I work for InsidePV.com so I have at least 2 computers running all day, and occasionally run the air conditioner. This runs me about $35 USD per month. If I run the air conditioner regularly, the bill can easily jump to double or triple,” explained an expat in Puerto Vallarta.

What to Bring When You Move

“We brought a lot. 9000 lbs. I would bring the things that make me feel good about my home. (personal things, art) In Manzanillo the sea air is hard on good art and metals. So I would think twice about bringing things of huge value that you want to leave in your family. If you love them and just want to enjoy them, bring them. Electronics, like computers, that you want in English you should bring. If you are a gourmet, bring your pots and pans, bring what it is that you love. Everything else leave,” explained one expatliving in Manzanillo.

“I wish I had brought more electronics, books, and computer software. All are easily double or triple the price in the US. This includes computers and pc accessories, cell phones, stereos, tv’s, books, and magazines, etc. I also wish I would have brought a dehumidifier- they are impossible to find here but absolutely essential. Quality cosmetics, beauty products, and health products are not available here and what is, is limited or made with locals in mind- for example, products for dark hair and skin tones or health shakes made from a local cactus. Comfortable furniture – beds, sofas, and chairs are usually hard as rocks here with rough fabrics. What I could have left are most of my designer clothing and high heels- cobblestone streets ruin shoes and humidity eats fine fabrics. It’s not uncommon to go to your closet and pull out a shirt with mildew on it after even a week,” advised one expat living in Puerta Vallarta.

Learning Spanish

“But if you want to fully enjoy the experience you will want to learn their language so that you can be a part what’s going on around you and stop having your eye’s glaze over when they start talking to you,” advised an expat living in Ajijic.

“I had no knowledge of the Spanish language before moving. I am presently enrolled in Spanish language classes 5 days weekly. It’s fun and it certainly helps to become and to feel more a part of the community,” explained an expat living in Tequisquiapan.

Life in Mexico

“Fresh food — veggies, fruit everywhere. Street markets that have everything you need, and the smell of cooking. People saying “buenas dias” and “buenos tarde” when passing on the street. No one’s in a hurry, except macho jovenes in their cars, and then it’s only to the next tope. Tequila and basic Mexican home cooking. The craftsmen and women, who still make items as their parents and parents before them did, and the fact that chicken wire has so many uses,” shared an expat living in Lake Chapala.

“The broken sidewalks, the falling bricks of ancient, beautiful but decrepit houses, the protruding live electric wires, tree branches and glass cases of electric meters, that all do their damn best to discourage you from indulging in reveries while walking,” described one expat.

“[I appreciate] The love of family. The societal urge to celebrate everything and anything possible. The pace of life. The priorities of day to day living. I love the way we greet each other. I like the impromptu-ness of life here,” explained another expat.

Another expat said, “I appreciate the “family unit” the most. It mirrors the way things must have been with early migration to the U.S. during and after WWII. I love the ingenuity of the Mexican people. I enjoy seeing their appreciation when you show enthusiam for a job well done. I love that the women cook everything from scratch….little if any pre-cooked foods. Most of all, I truly enjoy the simplicity of life. I find I have a smile on my face most of the time. No Drama (except for the novelas)! Life is good.”

Saying “No” in Mexico

“Saying “NO” for a Mexican is difficult, so a “YES” not always means “YES”. If they are trying to explain that something cannot be done, it won’t be done even if you get a “YES” at the end. A “Maybe” can be translated as “NO”,” explained one expat.

Safety in Mexico

“Narco cartels and the resulting territorial violence is more than challenging — it’s scary when it gets close,” said an expat in Lake Chapala.

“Don’t move here! I was nearly kidnapped. The cartels have made this place way too dangerous! I fled this place to save my life and the life of my husband and lost everything! You have to be insane to consider living in Mexico these days,” exclaimed one expat in Tijuana.

Another member in Cardenas, Tabasco said, “Mexico is changing rapidly in regards to safety. I would live in larger cities where it is easy to blend in. In small towns you stick out like a sore thumb. I built a store in Poblado 20, Cardenas, in the state of Tabasco. Everything was fine the first year. Now the cartel is moving in. It has become very dangerous from a kidnapping standpoint and we are leaving. I am going to Ciudad del Carmen. In the small poblados and countryside, there are no police. There is no one to report a crime to. And if there are police, no one to solve it.”

“I live in a small colonial town called Tequisquiapan, in the state of Queretaro. There is virtually no crime here. One thing one ought to remember…this is a poor country, with many unemployed men looking for ways to make a peso or two. If you have beautiful, expensive jewelry leave it in your home. If you flaunt your wealth someone will feel entitled to a portion of it. Use common sense,” recommended another expat.

An expat in Saltillo explained, “I’ve been living here for nearly 10 years. While I do still love it here, all the bad press about Mexico isn’t just a pact with the devil to keep dollars out of Mexico. It really is dangerous here. But I realize that geography has a lot to do with that perspective. I live in Coahuila (Saltillo), and my in-laws divide their time between Mexico City and Morelos. We now joke that Mexico City is the safest place for us to be. *sigh* Had you asked me last year, I might have agreed with many of you about the bad press. Now, unfortunately I’ve got to admit that it’s deserved (in part–I haven’t been to the US in over a year, so I don’t know exactly what they’re saying there). However, the reality is that I am getting tired of checking Twitter every time I want to leave the house, in order to find out if they’re shooting up wherever it is that I want to go. A silver lining is that friends seem to reach out more, emailing and calling on the phone warn us to not leave our houses when they find out that “stuff” is going down. We still walk around downtown, commenting how much we like it here (Saltillo). Then we have to add, “but it’s such a shame that they’re shooting at us.” Sometimes we can forget about it, but it’s a big “but.”

Violence and safety concerns in Mexico seem to vary greatly by region. Read our article,Crime in Mexico: Where are the Safest Places to Live in Mexico? for a better look at this topic.

Schools in Mexico

Expat Exchange members have submitted reports about numerous expat schools in Mexico – many in Mexico City — Westhill Institute in Mexico City, Greengates School in Mexico City and many other reports about schools in Mexico.

Parenting in Mexico

An expat parent described parenting in Mexico, “Mexico is a much more spontaneous place, with lots of last-minute changes and invitations. We have had to learn to go with the flow more than we had to at home. We’ve had to re-gauge when to hold firm and fast to the rules, and when to give them some wiggle-room, since this is a new context. We are also now immigrant parents, with a culture gap between us and our now very Mexican son. Before our move we shared a culture much more fully. There is also now a culture gap between us and our son’s friends, school, etc. All new dynamics that did not exist at home.”

Cost of Living in Mexico Prices in Mexico

cost-of-living-mexico

By: www.numbeo.com

* The next Prices are in Dollar 

Restaurants [Edit] Avg.
Range
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant 4.47 $
3.73
6.71
Meal for 2, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course 24.03 $
18.00
33.53
Combo Meal at McDonalds or Similar 5.59 $
4.47
5.96
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) 1.49 $
1.12
2.24
Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) 2.61 $
1.86
3.73
Cappuccino (regular) 2.29 $
1.86
2.98
Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle) 0.73 $
0.60
0.93
Water (0.33 liter bottle) 0.62 $
0.45
0.75
Markets [Edit] Avg.
Milk (regular), (1 liter) 1.07 $
0.97
1.18
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g) 1.70 $
1.34
1.94
Rice (white), (1kg) 1.15 $
0.89
1.49
Eggs (12) 1.94 $
1.56
2.24
Local Cheese (1kg) 6.03 $
4.47
7.45
Chicken Breasts (Boneless, Skinless), (1kg) 5.73 $
4.77
6.71
Apples (1kg) 2.43 $
1.94
2.91
Oranges (1kg) 0.98 $
0.67
1.49
Tomato (1kg) 1.18 $
0.89
1.49
Potato (1kg) 1.14 $
0.82
1.49
Lettuce (1 head) 0.79 $
0.60
1.12
Water (1.5 liter bottle) 0.95 $
0.75
1.12
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 8.20 $
6.71
11.18
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle) 1.18 $
0.89
1.49
Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) 1.93 $
1.34
2.61
Pack of Cigarettes (Marlboro) 3.17 $
2.98
3.35
Transportation [Edit] Avg.
One-way Ticket (Local Transport) 0.52 $
0.45
0.63
Monthly Pass (Regular Price) 22.35 $
14.16
37.25
Taxi Start (Normal Tariff) 1.86 $
0.75
2.61
Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff) 0.52 $
0.37
0.75
Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff) 8.94 $
6.71
14.90
Gasoline (1 liter) 0.92 $
0.85
0.97
Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car) 16,390.51 $
11,920.37
20,860.65
Utilities (Monthly) [Edit] Avg.
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment 57.44 $
37.25
96.85
1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local (No Discounts or Plans) 0.18 $
0.09
0.30
Internet (6 Mbps, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) 29.00 $
22.35
37.25
Sports And Leisure [Edit] Avg.
Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult 40.18 $
29.80
63.33
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 13.35 $
7.45
20.86
Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat 4.47 $
4.02
5.22
Clothing And Shoes [Edit] Avg.
1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Similar) 49.60 $
37.25
59.60
1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, H&M, …) 48.98 $
37.25
59.60
1 Pair of Nike Shoes 81.15 $
67.05
96.85
1 Pair of Men Leather Shoes 60.09 $
44.70
74.50
Rent Per Month [Edit] Avg.
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre 318.12 $
223.51
447.01
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 212.42 $
149.00
298.01
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre 657.78 $
372.51
1,117.53
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre 499.25 $
298.01
745.02
Buy Apartment Price [Edit] Avg.
Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment in City Centre 1,017.56 $
627.68
1,490.05
Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment Outside of Centre 856.08 $
566.22
1,117.53
Salaries And Financing [Edit] Avg.
Average Monthly Disposable Salary (After Tax) 737.95 $
521.52
1,117.53
Mortgage Interest Rate in Percentages (%), Yearly 11.04
10.00
12.55

These data are based on 10280 entries in the past 18 months from 879 different contributors.

Last update: October, 2014

Our data for each country are based on all entries from all cities in that country.

More info here: http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Mexico

Mexico’s Growing Assisted Living Market Targets U.S. Retirees

san-miguel-de-allende-view-1024x682

By: Laurence Iliff / The Dallas Morning News

SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, Mexico – Laredo native Alice Edwards and her helicopter pilot husband have an active lifestyle in this picturesque town popular among retired Texans.

But the 60-somethings are also the new owners of a townhouse in Mexico’s first assisted-living development aimed at the U.S. market, Cielito Lindo.

With 75 million baby boomers heading toward retirement and the cost of private nursing care in the U.S. outstripping hammered retirement funds, Mexican developers say they have an irresistible product in the works: active senior and assisted-living facilities, in a warm climate full of friendly people, for as little as $1,100 a month.

“For us, it’s purely an investment,” said Ms. Edwards. The couple will probably rent it out. But Floyd Edwards quickly added: “At this point, you never can tell. It’s something we will all need eventually.”

Some developers are shifting their traditional condo and townhouse developments in midstream to include assisted-living wings focused, in part, on Americans who want modern facilities with quality services rather than the informal operations or go-it-alone approaches that now exist.

There are already an estimated 1.2 million retired Americans and Canadians in Mexico who – like their millions of compatriots back home – will need a greater level of care at an affordable price.

“This is not going to be a niche market; this is going to be an entire industry,” said Eduardo Alvarado, chief executive officer of La Moreleja, a residential development in San Luis Potosí, a colonial city in northern Mexico that also sports Wal-Mart, Home Depot and many other brands familiar to Americans.

“We already have the pioneers here, but what we are seeing is that many people will come perhaps not because they want to but out of necessity,” he said. Many will find Mexico far more modern and far safer than they had imagined, he added.

For example, Mr. Alvarado said, the drug cartel violence that gets so much U.S. media coverage rarely touches civilians.

Mexico “is as safe or safer than the U.S.,” he said.

The U.S. Embassy warns Americans to be extra careful along the U.S.-Mexico border but otherwise considers attacks against the millions of U.S. citizens who visit and live here to be isolated and rare.

Mr. Alvarado said that once his property is finished sometime next year, with 180 spots for assisted living and 250 for independent “Dallas will be one of the markets we go after immediately,” he said, because of the proximity and direct flights.

Next will be the Northeast, he said, mostly because of the harsh climate.

La Moreleja will charge a one-time inscription of $9,000 and a monthly rent of about $1,100 that includes a full range of services, including meals.

Unregulated industry

One problem, developers said, is a lack of regulations.

The private assisted-living and nursing industry is so new in Mexico – there are about a half dozen facilities under construction – that laws need to be written to cover its activities.

The Mexican Association of Retirement Communities is lobbying for legislation similar to that in the U.S.

Marisol Ancona Velten, director of planning for Le Grand Senior Living, an assisted-living development in Mexico City, warned against informal, “clandestine” senior housing that caters to Americans and offers substandard care in converted private homes.

She also said many Mexican resort cities, like San Miguel and Puerto Vallarta, do not have the world-class hospitals found in the Mexican capital.

Mexico has a national health care system (which Americans can buy into for $350 a year) along with many private hospitals and clinics with U.S.-trained doctors. Average life expectancy for Mexicans is 75 years, just three less than in the U.S., according to the retirement organization AARP.

Since most Mexicans take care of their parents often until death, there is not much of a nursing home industry at all, except for those run by charities or the government.

Texans have long retired in neighboring Mexico, but they have often been adventurous types willing to learn the language and traverse the obstacle course of setting up a home, securing quality medical care and adapting to cultural differences.

Jonathan Taylor, 78, came to San Miguel de Allende almost six years ago.

“I reached an age when I didn’t want to work anymore, and I couldn’t afford to quit in the U.S.,” he said.

Mr. Taylor, from Dalhart, Texas, now spends his time running, playing tennis and socializing but can imagine the day when he might need to move into a place like Cielito Lindo, which he visited when it was inaugurated in September.

“I hope I don’t have to consider it for a while, but if you get into your 80s and need assisted living, what could be better than this?” said Mr. Taylor, who can get on a bus in San Miguel that takes him to Dallas to visit his brother. “The people are so friendly and the scenery is so beautiful.”

Stretching a dollar

At another location favored by American retirees, on Lake Chapala near Guadalajara, several small retirement homes have sprung up, often operated by locals, to serve Americans as they get older and can no longer take care of themselves.

What’s coming now, developers say, is completely different: brand-new, turnkey developments, for sale or rent, that come with a buffet of services (from a maid to full Alzheimer’s care) at about a third or less the cost of that in the U.S.

A report last month by the MetLife Mature Market Institute put the average rate for an assisted-living facility in the U.S. at $3,031 a month. (In the Dallas-Fort Worth area it was $2,849.) Generally, that included room and board, at least two meals a day, housekeeping and personal care assistance.

More expensive developments in Mexico are also targeting American retirees.

The Luma beachfront development in Puerto Vallarta, for active 50-plus baby boomers, is building condos that cost half a million dollars – minimum. But what buyers get is still far more than they could purchase with the same money in the U.S. – even with the depressed real estate market.

“One of the huge advantages of retiring in Mexico is the lower cost of living. Property taxes, medical expenses, groceries, and other monthly costs are significantly less,” said Alexander Urrutia, Luma’s sales director, who calls the development “the first active-adult beachfront community in Mexico.”

A 3,500-square-foot high-end beachfront condominium at Luma sells for about $900,000; it would go for twice as much in a similar U.S. setting, Mr. Urrutia said. And taxes on a $1 million property are less than $1,000 a year – less than one-tenth of those for a similarly priced home in the U.S.

One thing that developers and operators of the new facilities call a major selling point is not just price, but the Mexican-style TLC that comes with a society used to caring for their parents and grandparents throughout their lives.

“One of the more important considerations,” said Cielito Lindo developer Sergio Cházaro, “is the Mexicanity of the people giving the service.”

His assisted-living units go for an average of $1,500 per month, with meals and services, and a maximum of $3,000 a month for an Alzheimer’s patient with specialized, round-the-clock care.

‘More are coming’

Javier Godínez-Villegas, president of the Mexican Association of Retirement Communities, thinks there are up to 50 Mexican cities and towns that are ideal for assisted-living facilities aimed at the U.S. and Canadian markets.

“There are many developers who are willing now to build these types of facilities, and more are coming,” he said.

For Texans living in Mexico, the timing is just about right.

Sandra Thorpe from San Antonio and her husband, Gordon, live in the active retirement community Rancho Los Labradores that is next to Cielito Lindo, where they have also purchased.

“The concept just blew my mind because it’s got everything, and the price range is affordable,” Mr. Thorpe said.

The couple plans to put their Cielito Lindo villa into the rental pool for two years, Ms. Thorpe added, “and maybe we’ll move into it someday.”One in an occasional series about Texans who are working, living and doing business in Mexico.